As Punjab polls today, a number of key battles will be in voters’ eyes. The ruling Congress is fighting to retain power with Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi at its helm. Meanwhile, Capt Amarinder Singh is also looking to wrest victory after his ‘humiliating’ treatment by the Grand Old Party. It is also to be seen whether Bhagwant Mann makes a mark as AAP works towards entering the big Punjab show.
In the royal seat of Patiala and their home, either Captain Amarinder Singh or his wife have held sway as MLA for almost two decades now. Singh in fact won in 2017 and 2012, polling nearly 70 per cent of the votes, and his major opponents lost their deposits. But this time Captain does not have the Congress hand supporting him. This then is the riddle — will the people of Patiala vote for Captain or for his former party, the Congress? Or will the new flavour of the season in Punjab, AAP, seize the Patiala fortress too? READ MORE
Seeking re-election from Chamkaur Sahib seat for the fourth time, Charanjit Singh Channi is banking on the development work he undertook in his constituency as an MLA and during his 111-day tenure as Punjab chief minister. Channi recently made an impassioned speech telling the people of his long-time constituency that it would not be a victory if he wins by less than 50,000 votes. READ MORE
In the 2017 assembly election, Pirmal Singh Dhaula of the AAP defeated Sant Balvir Singh Ghunas of the SAD by over 20,000 votes in Bhadaur, Barnala district. However, the seat has gained prominence this time after Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi decided to fight from here.
Channi is running against Labh Singh Ugoke of the AAP and Satnam Singh of the SAD from his own Chamkaur Sahib seat in Rupnagar district. The seat is far from safe for the CM, as Congress has only won it once in the last 50 years. In 2017, the Congress finished third with only 21% of the vote.
Navjot Singh Sidhu, the leader of the Punjab Congress, easily won the seat in 2017 by a margin of 42,000 votes. However, victory may not come easily in this election. Bikram Singh Majithia, the SAD’s leader and a former Punjab minister, is running against Sidhu. Majithia will not run for re-election to his Majitha seat, which he won in 2017.
Majithia is the general secretary of the SAD and the brother-in-law of party president Sukhbir Singh Badal, who served as Punjab’s deputy chief minister until 2017. Majithia is a defendant in a drug-smuggling case that also involves the harbouring of criminals.
In Dhuri, the Congress’ Dalvir Singh Goldy is pitted against the AAP’s Bhagwant Singh Mann and the SAD’s Parkash Chand Garg. The constituency saw a tough fight in 2017, but Goldy eventually won, defeating AAP’s Jasvir Singh Jassi Sekhon by 2,811 votes. This contest will be closely watched with Mann in the mix. He is a two-term Member of Parliament (MP) from Sangrur, which is located in Punjab’s crucial Malwa belt.
Davinder Gubaya, a Congress candidate, won this seat by a hair’s breadth in 2017. He defeated BJP’s former cabinet minister Surjit Kumar Jyani by only 265 votes. Gubaya will face AAP’s Narinderpal Singh Sawna and SAD’s Hansraj Josan, a former minister in the Congress government, this time. This time, the BJP has fielded Jyani once more.
In the last Assembly elections here, Congress’ Sanjeev Talwar defeated AAP’s Daljit Singh Grewal (Bhola) by 1,581 votes. Talwar and Grewal have been pitted against each other once more. Ranjit Singh Gill has been selected by the SAD.
Malvika Sood, the sister of actor Sonu Sood, is the Congress candidate in Moga, running against AAP’s Dr Amandeep Kaur. The seat has been a Congress stronghold since 2007, with Harjot Kamal Singh defeating AAP’s Ramesh Grover by 1,764 votes in 2017. Singh has since become a member of the BJP. From this seat, the SAD has fielded Barjinder Singh Brar.
Former Congress MLA Ashwani Sekhri, who has won three times from here, is up against Sherry Kalsi of the AAP and Sucha Singh Chhotepur of the SAD. Lakhbir Singh Lodhinangal of the SAD defeated Ashwani Sekhri by 485 votes in 2017. Chottepur, a two-time former legislator, has run for office as an Independent, a Congress candidate, and now on the SAD ticket.
Dera Baba Nanak
The Gurdaspur district seat, named after the first Sikh Guru, is considered a Congress stronghold. However, the party suffered a setback in 2017 when Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, the deputy chief minister, had to wrest a victory. Randhawa eventually defeated SAD ex-minister Sucha Singh Langah, but only by 1,194 votes.
This time, the deputy chief minister must defeat AAP’s Gurdeep Randhawa and SAD’s Ravikaran Kahlon. Ravikaran, the son of Akali stalwart and former Punjab assembly speaker Nirmal Singh Kahlon, has retained control of the Fatehgarh Churian assembly segment.
Bhucho Mandi, formerly known as Nathana assembly segment, is a predominantly rural seat in Bathinda district. Pritam Kotbhai of the Congress Party is up against AAP’s Master Jagsir Singh and SAD’s Darshan Singh Kotfatta in this election. Kotbhai defeated Singh of the AAP by 645 votes in 2017. However, Kotbhai’s tenure has been marred by controversy. In Madhya Pradesh and Uttarakhand, he faced criminal charges in connection with chit fund scams.
The Garhshankar seat in Hoshiarpur district is expected to see a multi-cornered contest with five major contenders for the February 20 polls. In 2017, Jai Krishan of the AAP defeated Surinder Singh Heer of the SAD by 1,650 votes. This time, the AAP has chosen Jai Kishan, while the SAD has chosen Sohan Singh Rathan. Rathan served as a member of the Legislative Assembly from this district between 2012 and 2017. The Congress candidate is Amarpreet Lally. Lally, the general secretary of the All-India Youth Congress, was a candidate for the Congress ticket last time around.
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